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Honour killing: laws needed to protect women

THE evil and barbaric custom of honour killing is practiced in one way or the other all over the world. It has claimed a toll of numerous lives, of women specially. As every man has the right to life, liberty and security, so have women.

Men and women all are entitled to equal rights in a race, nation or religion. They have the right to marry or have a family. The family is a natural and basic group or unit of a society. But the right to life of a woman is conditional on obeying social norms and tradition.

In Pakistan women are being abused or murdered by close relatives. Honour killing was once an unusual custom but has more recently evolved into a common practice in which men kill sisters, daughters or other women members to avenge a shame or dishonour they are accused of bringing upon their tribes.

Usually it is menfolk who charge their womenfolk with a variety of offences that have brought them dishonour. These include being unfaithful, seeking divorce, eloping with boyfriends, refusing to marry the man chosen by them, wishing to seek employment outside home or being accused of having an illicit relation.

Every year thousands of women lose their lives because their husbands, fathers, brothers or close relatives do not approve of their actions.

Honour killing is practised in all the four provinces of Pakistan, but in Balochistan it is as notorious as are targeted killings, disappearances and social issues.

Balochisan mainly consists of the Baloch tribe which is regarded as the most traditional. The Baloch are said live and die for their tradition and esteem. Their women are considered to be the central point of their honour and esteem. Thus where tradition and honour is everything, there honour killing is also crossing the road.

According to a recent report in Dawn, 120 women were killed in tribal areas of Balochistan in the name of honour and almost another 180 have been threatened in the name of honour.

According to experts, violence affects the lives of millions of women worldwide in all socioeconomic and educational circles.

Violence against women constitutes a violation of basic human rights and is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. It violates the right to uphold the basic law and openly discriminate against women.

There is an urgent need to create awareness to highlight the issue. Such barbaric acts are crime not only against law but also against mankind. Moreover, an acceptable and legal age for marriage must be held by social laws and the constitution.

Source: Dawn